RIM To Developers: You'll Make More Money With Us Than Google, Apple

At the BlackBerry DevCon Europe event Tuesday, Research In Motion CEO Thorsten Heins told the 2,000 developers in attendance that BlackBerry is the "most profitable platform to work for," beating Apple's iOS and Google's Android.

In his first keynote as RIM's new chief executive, Heins kicked off his address by putting some numbers around BlackBerry’s to-date ecosystem. Every day, he said, there are nearly 6 million applications downloaded from BlackBerry App World, and the number of applications ready for download grows by 21 percent month-over-month. There are approximately 6 million BlackBerry developers in Europe, where the company saw its subscriber base grow by 75 percent last year.

"Developers are critical to our long term success," Heins said. "Just showing the size of this developer conference, I think it clearly proves that BlackBerry is a vibrant and thriving platform."

Heins seemed dead-set on growing that platform by the time BlackBerry 10 OS launches later this year. The new CEO credited audience members for building an app store that has received nearly 2 billion downloads since its launch in 2009. Heins also said that 13 percent of all BlackBerry developers have made more than 100,000 dollars from App World, which is "more than from any iPhone or Android application."

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Heins stressed the importance of RIM’s developer community in determining the success of the company’s new BlackBerry 10 OS, which is scheduled to launch this year. He also said that each developer in attendance would be receiving a free BlackBerry PlayBook to help build and test applications – a trend he said he would continue at "other developer events around the world."

"We are committed to empowering developers," Heins said. "We want to give you the best opportunity to find success in your business."

Heins didn’t announce an official release date for BlackBerry 10 OS, but said the new operating system has been in the works for over two years and is intended to deliver a "seamless" user experience between devices, the cloud, and embedded apps.

He also assured developers they would be receiving the toolsets they need from RIM to continue building "fabulous" applications for BlackBerry 7 and 7.1, and for the upcoming BlackBerry 10 OS. "We [RIM] are ready to compete," Heins said. "Make no mistake."

While RIM has managed to maintain a foothold in the European market, the BlackBerry 10 OS release in the U.S. is considered a make-or-break move for the company by consumers and solution providers alike. A weak application ecosystem, coupled with a lack of innovative design, has been pointed to by many as a reason for RIM’s rapid loss in market share to Android and iOS.

"BlackBerry 10 must be better than anything on the market," said Steven Kantorowitz, President of CelPro Associates, a New York-based BlackBerry service provider and systems integrator. "RIM has great products that have trailed Apple and that needs to stop. RIM must create a buzz about their products."

Rick Jordan, Director of Sales and Strategic Alliances at Tenet Computer Group, a Toronto-based solution provider and RIM partner, is confident in the new release’s ability to at least somewhat revive the struggling BlackBerry brand.

"BlackBerry 10 is definitely a step in the right direction for them, and it may not be enough to turn the tide, but combined with Fusion and other back-end enhancements, it could give RIM a real fighting chance to maintain and regain the market share," Jordan told CRN.

Jordan also said that RIM has a well-deserved reputation for enterprise security and dependability, but has been slow to keep up with the likes of Apple and Google in terms of user experience. "As a system, RIM’s technical design is still superior, mainly because of the power of the BlackBerry Enterprise Server, but they have lagged behind on the user interface and user experience, which ultimately drive consumer sales," he said.

But the release of BlackBerry 10 OS this year, has potential to change that, and "they [RIM] could use a thrust," Jordan said.

Heins concluded his address Tuesday by suggesting that "thrust" was soon to come. "I'm thrilled to have been passed the reins by becoming the CEO of RIM,” he said to the crowd. "I'm absolutely convinced that RIM has an exciting future."